The Alberta government is expanding the eligibility criteria of the monkeypox vaccine to those at high risk for exposure to the virus.
Beginning Thursday, Albertans 18 and older who “self-identify as meeting the eligibility criteria for targeted prevention prior to an exposure” can begin booking immunization appointments, the province said in a news release.
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Vaccine administration will start on Friday, according to the province.
“With the elevated risk of contracting the monkeypox virus in some segments of the population, every effort should be made to prevent it from spreading, including getting vaccinated if eligible,” Health Minister Jason Copping said in a news release.
“Anyone experiencing symptoms, such as fever, swollen glands, sores or a rash, is reminded to self-isolate and get the necessary care from a health-care provider.”
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Imvamune (the smallpox and monkeypox vaccine) has been authorized in Canada for adults who are 18 years and older and who are determined to be at high risk for exposure to the virus.
“Although anyone can catch the monkeypox virus through close physical contact, during the current outbreak, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men have been impacted the most, especially those with new or multiple sexual partners,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a news release Thursday.
“Those eligible for the monkeypox vaccine should consider getting a dose and at the same time take other recommended measures to reduce the risk of exposure.”
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Alberta has been providing Imvamune to close contacts of a confirmed monkeypox case after exposure since June 7. The province said Wednesday it has administered 36 doses to date.
The province said vaccine supply is limited. Since July 13, the province has received 1,200 doses of the vaccine.
“Alberta is working with the federal government to secure more doses of the vaccine. The federal government will release additional doses from the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS) based on usage,” a spokesperson with Alberta Health said Wednesday.
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Symptoms of monkeypox include skin lesions in the mouth and genital area, fever, night sweats, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and joint or muscle pain.
The virus is spread through prolonged close contact and can be transmitted through skin lesions, respiratory droplets, and by sharing clothing, bedding or other common items that have come into contact with an infected person’s sores.
Alberta has confirmed 13 cases of monkeypox, according to Alberta Health Services.
Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, said Wednesday there are 745 confirmed cases of monkeypox reported in Canada and 99 per cent of those affected are men.
Alberta’s eligibility criteria
Beginning July 28, Alberta residents 18 years and older eligible for the monkeypox vaccine will include:
1. Transgender, cisgender or two-spirit individuals who self-identify as belonging to the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community and who meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Have received a recent (in the last six months) diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection
- Are planning to have, or in the past 90 days had, sex outside of a mutually monogamous relationship
- Have attended venues for sexual contact within the past 90 days (e.g., bath houses, sex clubs) or may be planning to, or who work/volunteer in these settings
2. Any sexual contacts of the individuals described above.
3. Staff and volunteers in a social setting or venue or event where sexual activities between men (individuals described above) may take place.
To determine if you are eligible for the vaccine and to book an appointment, call Health Link at 811.
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